Everything Happens for a Reason

HR Books Review: ‘Everything Happens for a Reason’

God forbid you’re a young mother diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. What would you do?

Kate Bowler, a professor at the school of divinity at Duke, was diagnosed with colon cancer when she was thirty-five years old. Two years later, she wrote a book called “Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved” that chronicles everything that happened after her cancer diagnosis.

How This Book Connects to HR

First things first: Kate is still alive and writing about faith, love, relationships and cancer. (Sorry to spoil it for you, but, in this case, it’s a good spoiler.) In this book, she captures what it’s like to contemplate mortality and process unfortunate medical news in a society that tries, but often fails, to comfort those with an incurable cancer diagnosis.


Kate still has cancer. It’s never going away. And I picked this book as a March #HRBookClub book of the month because it’s a beautifully written story about a qualifying life event that many HR professionals will have to help employees manage. If you work in human resources and haven’t had an employee come to you with an unfortunate story about illness, it will happen. This book offers practical ways you can respond.

Stop Saying Dumb Things

“Everything Happens for a Reason” also reminds us to stop saying stupid things or projecting our personal narratives onto other people’s lives. Does everything happen for a reason? Does God have a bigger plan for you? Somebody else’s illness or obstacle isn’t an excuse to lecture or teach. It’s an opportunity for you to show love and empathy.

I can’t recommend “Everything Happens for a Reason” enough as a book for HR departments and consultants trying to be more human and connect with workers on an individual level. Kate Bowler is a fantastic writer, and this book will encourage you to reconsider how you interact with all colleagues in both sickness and health.

So, pick up a copy of “Everything Happens for a Reason.” When you’re done, share it with your team. It’s a tender, poignant and moving testament to how cancer doesn’t have to be the end of the story. And it’s written by a talented writer who has smart things to say about work, life and friendships that form through our lifetimes.

You won’t be disappointed.

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